2017 Audi A8 caught in the act!

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After the Dieselgat saga, VW anounced it cut the R&D budget by €1 billion to €12 billion next year. This led to speculation about the premier brands Porsche and Audi’s future viability in the face of stiff technology competition from BMW and Mercedes.

Fortunately the 2017 Audi A8 still has what it takes!

Spy photographers have caught Audi putting its next-generation A8 flagship sedan through the paces on public roads in Europe ahead of its release next year.

2017 Audi A8

Image Credit: Spied Bilde

Free of heavy camouflage, the A8 testing mule appears to show how design elements drawn from Prologue series of concept cars will appear in production form as the A8 kicks off the next era of Audi design.

For example, the A8’s fast roofline, thin C-pillar and narrow greenhouse are hallmarks that Audi design chief Marc Lichte has said will help define the look of Audi’s sedans, including the next generations of the A6 and A7.

Another element drawn from the Prologue series is the clean, simple surface texturing, a move away from the multiple character lines seen on recent Audi products such as the Q7 and Q2 crossovers.

Like other recent Audis, the A8 mule sports the latest evolution of Audi’s trademark “single-frame grille.” It also appears to show production-ready headlight and taillight designs.

Audi has confirmed the redesigned A8 will appear next year, though it’s unclear whether the sedan will arrive stateside in 2017 or 2018. The flagship will introduce Audi’s Traffic Jam Pilot system, a self-driving system for congested roads and highways at speeds of up to 37 mph.

It was rumored that Audi may move the A8 to the Volkswagen Group’s MSB platform, developed by Porsche, for rear-wheel-drive vehicles with front-mounted engines. But the A8 mule appears to have a dash-to-axle ratio too short for a rear-drive vehicle, meaning the A8 most likely is based on the latest version of the MLB platform for longitudinally mounted engines, where it will utilize Audi’s vaunted Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

With design being laid down a generation before production we’ll probably still get to enjoy Vorsprung Duch Technik for a while to come…

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